Alaska's governor is pushing a bill to recriminalize marijuana in the state - and trigger a constitutional challenge that he hopes to win this time.
Alaska laws regarding the possession of the drug are the most liberal in the country. Residents may possess up to a quarter-pound of marijuana for use in the home.
But Frank Murkowski's bill would make possession of less than four ounces a misdemeanor and possession of four ounces and more a felony.
Past attempts to recriminalize the drug have failed based on a 1975, Supreme Court precedent. In what is commonly known as the Ravin decision, the state high court found that Alaskans' constitutional right to privacy outweighed the drug's potential danger.
But the Murkowski administration insists marijuana is a more potent drug now than it was in the 1970s. And they want the court to consider new scientific evidence.
Opponents say the evidence is bad science and they have their own scientific studies to present should the case ever go to court. The bill also contains measures to curb access to pharmaceutical drugs used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
House Bill 149 awaits action in a legislative committee.
Poll: Alaskans Oppose Marijuana Re-Criminalization 56%-43%
Marijuana Policy Project, DC
JUNEAU, ALASKA -- A new poll of Alaska voters reveals strong opposition to Gov. Frank Murkowski's bill to re-criminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the home. In the survey, conducted March 6-11 by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, only 43 percent supported the measure, which the Senate recently tacked onto an anti-methamphetamine bill now being considered by a Senate-House conference committee. 56 percent opposed the bill, with just one percent undecided.
Fifty percent of voters said they supported the Alaska Supreme Court ruling that the privacy provision of the state constitution allows adults to possess up to four ounces of marijuana for personal use in their homes, with 47 percent opposed. When those opposed were asked how they would feel if possession of a smaller amount of marijuana were permitted, support for the decision rose to 56 percent.